Eric Gordon on the evolution of the residential data game — and how to stay competitive in the new world

first_imgEric GordonEric Gordon launched the back-end listings system now known as RealPlus in 1985. The firm created a listings database and a program for managing listings and customers, which was later coupled with a better faxing system than what brokerages were using at the time. The company has had rivals along the way, most notably On-Line Residential, but in the last few years it’s faced venture-backed startups that have eaten into its market share. Gordon — who sold a 50 percent stake of RealPlus to Terra Holdings (parent company of Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead) in 2001 — spoke to TRD’s Sylvia Varnham O’Regan about the challenges of retaining clients and evolving in this highly competitive environment.It was 1984. My father owned a series of drugstores in the Bronx that I was being groomed to run. I left that and I decided I wanted to go to Wall Street. But I don’t have a college degree and I had no experience, so it was very tough to get a job. The next best thing was real estate. I went to work for a company called J. Rodman and Associates on 57th Street. While I was waiting for my real estate license, which took about four months, they had an IBM PC XT. It was the second generation of personal computers.I taught myself programming. I ended up writing a small application for the agents there, and they began to rely on it. Then an agent from that firm went to another firm — and the second firm hired me. I decided, “You know what, I’m in the technology business.”From there, the program kept evolving. All of a sudden, people were calling us up. There was really nothing else at the time.I went into business with a friend, but we split up after a year. Early on, I worked in my parents’ home in New Jersey, in my sister’s old bedroom, on a Ping-Pong table.What the firms did back then to share listings was put their exclusives in a fax machine every night and just distribute them to every firm that they wanted to share with. So every firm, when they would open up in the morning, would have this mound of paper coming out of their fax. They put it in front of a data-entry person who would enter each listing into their respective systems. Crazy stuff. In the early 2000s, it dawned on me that we should be able to do this electronically. We built R.O.L.E.X., the RealPlus Online Listings Exchange, which took away the need for faxing.Corcoran and Elliman came on board. We had 75 percent of all the listings going through our system. Stribling was a client of ours for a long time — 10, 15 years. Sotheby’s was a client of ours for 10, 15 years. Fox Residential was the same. It was heartbreaking to lose them to Perchwell. Because my head was down, just focused on developing our current application [the listings program dubbed All Access NYC] for two or three years, I didn’t pay enough attention to the Sotheby’s, the Striblings. I hope I get them back.I have 25 people now, and I would say probably 20 of those are programmers. That’s up from 17 in March 2018.It’s nonstop, and I love it. Everything is new: new thoughts, new ideas, new suggestions from clients, new technologies we can work with.We’re going to build a mobile app because I think emotionally people want them. We do a lot with acquiring data and giving agents access to third-party data sites. Agents need the data.I think the philosophy for many, many years in the real estate industry was to spend as little as possible on technology. That set the New York market back in terms of technology. I’ve seen national companies come into New York. They think it’s a pot of gold, but they give up because they don’t recognize the idiosyncrasies of the New York market. There are some local ones that do a good job. Perchwell is relatively new. Founder Brendan Fairbanks was a client of ours for three years and then decided to develop his own platform. He’s done a nice job. OLR has been around as long as I can remember.I would prefer that there was never any competition, but the competition makes us do a better job. We’re constantly looking at pricing, we’re constantly thinking of different ways to market the things we do.The listing is ubiquitous now. We’ve begun to adjust our pricing model and are adding services like company websites to stay competitive and affordable.It used to be that the only way agents could get access to listings was through a product like ours. Now StreetEasy is free. There are other places firms can go.We survived 34 years. Somehow, we figured out how to do it. Nobody’s getting richer, but the bills get paid and my wife doesn’t yell at me.The future of real estate, I think, is being able to do predictive models. Don’t tell the customer what happened yesterday, let’s figure out what those prices are going to be tomorrow. There are a whole bunch of business schools that now offer these business analytics programs. I’m enrolled in an 18-month one at Harvard. I started in January, and I’ll graduate next September. I’m taking it for the sole purpose of being able to better understand the data. This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Now VC-backed rivals. New types of tech. The Real Deal talked to six players in New York City’s residential space about the new pain points they’re feeling in a sector that’s getting squeezed from all sides. Below, Eric Gordon talks about losing clients in the past — and redoubling efforts to stay competitive now. Read the full story — “Tales from the front lines” — here Eric GordonRealPluslast_img read more

Brooklyn’s luxury market reaches new pandemic high

first_img This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Now 442 Union Street and 257 Berry Street (Google Maps)For the second week in a row, Brooklyn’s luxury market saw sales volume climb to record levels during the pandemic.Last week, 12 properties went into contract for a combined total of almost $36.1 million, according to a Compass weekly report. The data tracks the borough’s contract activity for properties asking $2 million or more. The previous week saw 10 properties go into contract for a total of $30.2 million.The pre-coronavirus bar was set on the week of March 9, when 15 contracts were inked for a combined $45.3 million.That was before nonessential businesses were orderedto close and in-person showings were banned.Of the deals last week, nine were townhouses, two were condos and one was a co-op. The median asking price was $2.5 million, and the average listing discount was 4 percent. The properties spent an average of 179 days on the market.ADVERTISEMENTThe most expensive deal was a Williamsburg townhouse, at 257 Berry Street. The four-bedroom home spans 4,700 square feet with three outdoor landscaped terraces, and a drive-in garage. It went into contract asking $5.25 million.The second priciest property was a 4,320-square-foot Carroll Gardens home at 442 Union Street. The four-bedroom townhouse has a backyard, a rooftop terrace and an elevator. Its final asking price was $4.39 million.Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected] moreBiggest week of pandemic for Brooklyn’s luxury marketGreenpoint condo was Brooklyn’s priciest contract last weekBrooklyn’s back: Luxury contract volume hits four-month highlast_img read more

Uganda’s Museveni says it is not a bad thing to be…

first_imgDuring this year’s State of the Nation address, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni remarked that being a president for a very long time is not a bad thing.The 72-year-old leader who is also one of the longest serving African president made the remark in the address in the country’s parliament that lasted for three-hours due to heckling by the opposition, local media reports.“Being president for a very long time is not a bad thing. That is why I am experienced … Even if you woke me up at night, I will tell you what is happening,” he remarked amid opposition rants.“If you want to be a leader, you should avoid prejudice because prejudice can make you live with envy; you will end up getting high blood pressure,” The Observer quoted him.Museveni who has been in power for 31 years has always found a way to justify his presidency.The Ugandan president in the address outlined peace, de­vel­op­ment of the in­fra­struc­ture and the hu­man re­source; wealth cre­ation, job cre­ation, and mar­ket ac­cess as the five key is­sues that will be ma­jor dri­vers to­wards economic sta­bil­ity for his coun­try.In 2016 ahead of the general elections which he won he was quoted as saying: “This old man who has saved the country, how do you want him to go? How can I go out of a banana plantation I have planted that has started bearing fruits?”last_img read more